Dialect AdviceDialect, Advice
ServiceScape Incorporated
ServiceScape Incorporated
2016

The Differences Between American and British English

In this episode, we discuss some of the primary differences between American and British English in spelling, grammar, punctuation, vocabulary, idioms and formatting. For example, we'll discuss some of the following points:

Spelling

In spelling, while American English uses "O-R" in words such as "color" and "favorite," British English uses "O-U-R."

Grammar

In grammar, American English handles verb agreement for collective nouns differently than British English. In American English, collective nouns are always followed by a singular verb. For example: The team IS planning to win.

In British English, these collective nouns could be followed by a singular OR plural verb, depending on the preference of the writer or speaker.

Punctuation

In American English, the primary quote is denoted with double quotation marks and any quote within a quote is denoted with single quotation marks. In British English, this same quote would be denoted with single quotation marks and the quote within it, with double quotation marks.

Vocabulary

There are several instances of vocabulary differences between British and American English. For example, a drugstore in America is a chemist in the UK. When an American asks for an attorney, someone in the UK would request a barrister.

Idioms

When an American "knocks on wood" to ensure good luck, his British friend would say "touch wood." While an American says something is "a drop in the bucket," or an insignificant amount compared to what is needed, a British person would call it "a drop in the ocean."

Formatting

In American English, the date is written as month, day and year, with a comma between the day and year. In British English, the date is written as day, month and year, with no commas at all.

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